Awaken, My Love (Brava historical romance) Paperback – 2 Aug 2001
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Suffering in a passionless marriage, Elaine Metcliffe is amazed when she is transported back in time to the nineteenth century and into the body of another man's wife, where she discovers a renewed sensuality in the arms of English baron Charles Mortimer.
Top Customer Reviews
Elaine Metcliffe is an overweight thiry-nine year old; hardly middle aged in my opinion, but that is how she is portrayed by the author, and in a cold loveless marriage where neither she nor her husband share any affection or happiness. So of course she is surprised to wake up one morning and find herself in the body of lovely nineteen year old Morrigan in 19th century England. Charles Mortimer who has been married to Morrigan for a year and all his attempts to bed his new wife, have met with blatant refusal. She barely speaks to him, and refuses to accept anything from him, not his wedding ring, not the lovely clothing he has provided her with and especially not the pleasures of the marriage bed that he is so eager to show to her. Frustrated, Charles rapes his wife, and this is how the reader first meets him, the morning after. He is filled not with anger or repugnance at his own actions but he is still angry with his wife for her coldness towards him. He like so many men of his time, does not see his action as rape, but as his right. The author doesn't bother to dwell on this seemingly unimportant aspect of his character. He barely knows his wife.Read more ›
I didn't mind Elaine in the opening scene, it was nice to open with a heroine masturbating and confront the topic from the get go. I hoped she'd be able to find someone who would be more willing and able to satisfy her and appreciate her when she meets the hero. But when she somehow travels back in time to Victorian England after being married for 17 years in the 20th century, she still acts like some virginal debutante from, well... from Victorian times. A little Too Stupid To Live.
There were too many of the requisite (and tired) scenes in time travel stories, where the time traveller essentially says something like, "Omigod, there's no running water?" It's one scene like that after another. And she never speaks, coz apparently she's afraid of being found out that she isn't British or Scottish or mute. I mean seriously, if she was so afraid of talking she had loads of opportunity to try speaking and listening to her own voice when she was alone in her own room. Does she do this? No, she lets some religious nut job of a maid to bully her around. Then her husband comes and though she is attracted to him all she does is squeak. Wtf? What was the point of getting a heroine from the modern times to go back to the past if she was going to act like a Victorian prude anyway? For someone who thinks she has a "feminist" aspect to her character Elaine seems to love being a pathetic doormat.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Overall it was stulifying with an over the top villain.
Things I liked about the book:
1. The heroine in the beginning. Middle-aged, dumpy Elaine in a dull marriage gets a second chance in the body of Morrigan, a thin twenty-one year old upper class lady. Yay, good for Elaine.
2. The initial confusion that Elaine had after she was propelled into the past and a less than happy situation. Elaine's attempt to edge into the role of Morrigan. I can even accept Hattie the Harridan, which at first was a rather fun twist on the motherly old family retainer who protects the heroine. Hattie is a beldame with a taste for the more punitive aspects of the Christian religion and clearly has dominated Morrigan.
Things I didn't like:
1. Whether you are right or left handed has everything to do with the body and has nothing to do with who is living in your head. This could have been an interesting situation, but instead it is just an annoying distraction.
2. I do not believe that a 39 year old modern woman who has been married for 17 years has NEVER been french kissed. I just do not believe it.
3. Why does the hero put up with his wife's obnoxious relatives who clearly she does not even like?
4. Oh, no, another over the top villain. This one is really over the top. Sorry, I don't buy the villain at all. Schone's villians strongly suggest that she has some gender issues.
Why are all of the females in this book (aside from the heroine and her maid) two dimensional monsters? Why does the author equate being overweight with either being sexually unfulfilled and/or ill mannered and evil? Did it ever occur to Elaine while she was staring at her hairy legs that attacking those hairs with a straight razor might make everyone think she was, well, unhinged?
By the time it got to the climax, I just didn't care. The author had made too many blunders, the plot was weak and the only character who appeared to be more than two dimensional was Elaine.
I haven't been thinking about this book as much as I have about GABRIEL'S WOMAN (a difficult but fascinating and very dark read). Yet, this book has its own charm. The first two chapters are famous (or infamous) and very controversial. Schone broke the boundaries of the regency genre by portraying an opening scene where the heroine was masturbating. She follows this up with the equally short and striking second chapter in which the hero is not masturbating, but he must find his own pleasure where his wife will not.
This is a story based on the somewhat unlikely premise that a person can travel through time via an orgasm. Leaving that aside, Schone brings out the realities of a 20th century woman finding herself in late Victorian England very well.
Elaine takes far too long to assert herself against a witchy maid/companion. She is grappling with several mysteries - firstly, how she has come back in time; secondly, where is the woman whose body she has now come into; thirdly, what is the relationship between this woman and her husband; and lastly, why is Morrigan (the name of this woman) so peculiar? She investigates these mysteries with some indifference and considerable sloth, because she is far more concerned with protecting the revelation of her real identity (and fears of being thought insane) than in finding out the truth. Her passivity will cost her precious time, and very nearly, her life. For most of the book, she does not speak and when she does, her accent appears to have miraculously disappeared or at least not be noticeable to Charles, Morrigan's husband.
But in the process, Elaine (in Morrigan's) body will learn much about her body's capacity for pleasure, her stultifying marriage back in the 20th century, and a number of dark family secrets held by Morrigan. Elaine will also have to question the issues of fidelity. Is it adultery to have sex with the husband of the woman whose body she possesses inadvertently? Is it sinful to enjoy those moments?
I would have given this book a higher grade except for the following things - firstly, the reappearance of the villain was too overblown, too much over-the-top, and with no explanations as to how the time-travel had been accomplished twice. Secondly, from the outset, I did not much care for Charles - a man who married blindly without looking carefully, and a man who failed to notice and suspect changes in his wife. His sex life seemed to be all that mattered, and there was not very much love in his relations with Elaine/Morrigan. I was also annoyed by Elaine's passivity vis-a-vis Morrigan's original maid and later in other crucial developments.
The book contains Schone's trademark sensuality with a *very hot* pillow book scene, where words accomplish almost as much as caresses. But I still consider Gabriel's Woman to be the better book of the two Schone books I have read so far, and the short story "A Lady's Pleasure" to be her masterpiece.
Recommended: to lovers of erotic romance; with reservations to all others.
The book starts out with a masturbating heroine in the 20th century and a husband practically raping his wife in the 19th to get his conjugal rites at last. The sexually frustrated wife Elaine somehow swaps bodies with the frigid wife Morrigan-I read the whole book and never grasped how this happened.
But willing to suspend my disbelief and revulsion I read on. An on and on. And the book only got worse, if possible. Every single 'romantic scene' was the husband trying to exercise his conjugal rights, though it took him ages and lots of very repetitive groping to do so. His idea of foreplay is to grab her nipples or see how many fingers he can fit.
Even worse was the incest, near-beastiality with a bull, and every single bodily function known to human kind being performed in front of Elaine/Morrigan to show her who is boss by either her loopy relatives or her husband. Since she is so fearful of giving the game away that she is from the 20th century she hardly ever speaks throughout the entire novel except to say, "No, don't," as the supposed hero forces himself on her once more.
Her objections to the hero are very real, for apart from being so revolting, she is in essence committing adultery against her husband in her own time
If I didn't know better I would have said this was a parody of a romance novel, but the writer's alternating of gothic horror with slapstick shows she really has no idea how to stick to one thing and do it well.
Even more ludicrous is that the Neanderthal hero Charles is supposed to be an expert on Tantric love practices designed for maximum gratification. But apart from showing her some mildly spicy pictures in the kama sutra he is plain vanilla missionary position all the way, and every single experience she has with him is painful on the physical level and degrading on the mental one. Even a 20th century guy would get two black eyes for the revolting things he does and the way he treats her, let alone someone in 1883. Then we are supposed to believe they have fallen in love and he is glad that she has come from another century and can't go back to her own time? They never even have a conversation. Even after she is nearly raped and killed he ignores her for three days while he tries to decide whether or not to lock her in a loony bin!
Finally, the villain of the piece, a creature who can supposedly go into any body at all, and used to be Morrigan, murders various people and becomes the randy Pillsbury doughboy-the author's words, not mine. And decides that it wants to know what it is like to have sex with itself with Elaine in its former body. I mean, really!
This book is easily the worst example I have ever read of an author doing anything to shock the readers even at the expense of basic common sense and taste. ... Not erotica, and certainly not romance, I would give this negative stars if I could. It was laughably bad when it wasn't totally disgusting. And I am no prude!
A romance is two people falling in love and becoming committed to each other, respecting each other so the sex is meaningful, not the sex becomes meaningful because they decide they are stuck with each other and they are better than nothing.
Elaine Metcliff, a sexually unfulfilled modern-day woman, wakes up one morning in the 19th century and in the home and body of the very frigid Morrigan, Lady Arlcotte. To say that Elaine wakes up in a situation akin to a nightmare would be the ultimate understatement. Aunt Hattie, her main caretaker, is obnoxious in more ways than one. Her new "husband," Charles, appears to be displeased, though fascinated, with her. And her body now has a small deformity which is causing mobility problems.
Meanwhile, Charles has been very dissatisfied with Morrigan's lack of sexual appetite. When he sees Elaine, she's in Morrigan's body, so he has no way of knowing she's a different person. Yet he detects something has changed and he begins an earnest pursuit.
As Elaine keeps up the pretense because no one will believe the truth, she tries desparately to return to her "time." Then as the undeniable romantic persuasions of Charles continue, she feels to submit to him would be adulterous to both her real husband and to Charles' missing wife. Finally, as she accepts her situation and experiences Charles' expert lovemaking, she finds total fulfillment.
In addition to the fantasy of "body swapping," AWAKEN, MY LOVE is made more complicated and interesting with issues of child abuse, demonic possession, insanity and overly zealous relatives. The conclusion alone is worth the 5-star rating.
Ms. Schone mixes real romance with beautifully written eroticism. The book is well worth reading.
And then there are flaws with the logic of the plot, too. I mean, why does Elaine wake up in another time, in another body, and assume that she has swapped bodies with someone else, that the person who used to occupy the body she is in now has taken over her body? No one told her that that was what happened, and she has no evidence of it. Yet she jumps straight to that conclusion, and doesn't even consider any other explanations for her predicament. And why does she fancy Charles, given that he's mean and insulting and pushes her around and calls her derogatory names? Seriously, the guy is a control freak, and yet there is Elaine thinking constantly about how wonderful he is. A lot of other reviewers described Charles as delightful and adorable. I had no idea women found rude, pushy, controlling men who force their will on women and even lock them up and hold them down so attractive! Ugh! Also, Charles laments that he is stuck with his wife, since he does not qualify for an anulment. Er, as far as I was aware, in 1883 divorces were possible. Why was that not an option for him?
I really loathed the characters in this book. Elaine was a dumb doormat and Charles was a boor and a brute. But what I really hated was the thing that pretty much all of the 'evil' or 'mean' characters had in common, the thing that gave me an insight into the prejudices and mindset of the writer herself. And what was that thing? I hear you ask. Well, I'll tell you...ALL OF THE BADDIES WERE OVERWEIGHT. Apparently, this author thinks that if you're overweight, you must be a bad person. The aunt, the cousins, the lecherous uncle and the abusive nurse Hattie were all obese. And the author made mention of this at every opportunity...these characters never just pointed a finger, they pointed a fat finger. They never just ate a meal, they always stuffed their faces. Every opportunity was taken to poke fun at the fat people, and call them names, and point out what revolting people they were, looking so fat. The only evil character who wasn't fat was Morrigan...but then, I guess the author couldn't make her fat, because it was Morrigan's body that Elaine got switched into, and obviously this writer didn't want to write about an overweight heroine. The heroine's former body was fat, however, which the author implies is why, when she was in that body, she was never properly kissed, never taken out on a picnic, never had a real lover or experienced decent lovemaking or romance. That made me mad. I know a lot of overweight people who are well loved...I resent the implication that fat people are unloveable. Look around you. A lot of people are fat thesedays, and most of them are loved, and are good people. I really hate stereotypes, especially grossly incorrect and unfair ones...
This book was full of faults and annoyances. And yet, I will say, it was VERY hard to put down. It was a real page turner. I don't know exactly why, but I suspect it was because it was such a warped and bizarre little tome...it was like a freak show that I just couldn't look away from. I would have rated it lower if it weren't so compelling, and I hate myself for getting so addicted to such trash. This book was like most things, I guess: the worse they are, the more addicted we get to them.
One final thing about this book: be warned, the author decided to go for realism, and went a bit too far. I mean, talking about periods and chamber pots and unshaven legs is okay, in moderation, but did those subjects have to DOMINATE the book? And can anyone please explain to me what this line from the book meant: 'How could he face her with such sangfroid, having felt her menstrual heat?' That made me laugh. I have NO idea what menstrual heat is, but I do hope it isn't catching!